I have been extremely disappointed with this book. MacCulloch has an axe to grind against Christianity. It was a waste of a credit. I am still waiting for a quality history of Christianity, this book is not it. The book is filled with speculation, conjecture and the author's opinions.
While he covered some of the history and in many respects was enlightening, whenever possible he will take a negative slant against Christianity. There are too many areas where he speculates about the absence of documents and then proceeds to impute his theory on what a particular thinker, saint or actor in Christian history "might really have said". I am looking for unbiased history. If it comes out good or bad so be it. There are enough facts, writings and archeological evidence regarding Judaism and Christianity that there is really no need to speculate on what may or may not be missing. Or what late Christians/the Church may or may not have excised from the records. So many of his statements are conjecture ending with "we may never know".
I do not write this to defend Christianity, the book is just bad history writing filled with the author's supposition and outright hostility.
MacCulloch throughout this book makes snide comments on people and practices he writes about, speculates about things that don't exist and will continually give his opinion on the intent of whom he writes.
A much better writer is Rodney Stark and the book: The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion. It does not cover the Hebrews or Church history in as much detail but gives excellent treatment to the preceding roots of monotheism.
If you want history go to another author like Stephen Ambrose, David McCullough or Joseph Ellis.
It more travelogue than real history with the author inserting his politically correct musings and pot shots at the United States, the military, real estate development patterns and even McDonald's.
He is a Bill Bryson pretender without Mr. Bryson's storytelling skills.
The worst digression when Winchester takes time to reminisce about his real estate deal in Montana where he made a great return but has to slam the more recent buyers who built bigger houses (On their own property) than his narrow mind could envision.
My favorite display of Winchester's pomposity is when a father & son take time out of their afternoon to ferry him on their boat and he buys ONE OF HIS OWN BOOKS as a thank you gift to send them.
It was wasted time and a wasted credit.
I bought this book in the Laguardia Airport book store. It resonated with me on my spiritual life, how to pray and my relationship with God. I am not Catholic so I was not prepared for the practical Christian spirituality that James Martin conveys in this book.
I was headed in the wrong direction, away from God and this book literally turned me around. I am in a much better place and on a better path because of the impact this book had on my life.
I bought the audio book to re-listen to it for more insights I may have missed on the 1st reading.
The title of the book is absolutely true.
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